By David Ribeiro , Research Analyst from ACEEE

Communities face a growing number of stresses that pose risks to their energy systems and economies. These include aging infrastructure in need of costly maintenance upgrades and severe weather events. Energy efficiency is a strategy-albeit not a broadly recognized one-to enhance the community resilience of energy systems served.

One example of community resilience is the role that CHP played during Superstorm Sandy. All keeping the power on at critical facilities. As well as including hospitals and universities, when 8.5 million customers lost power. But efficiency could also be key to community resilience. Especially in less obvious ways, including helping communities to weather economic stresses.

For example, natural gas customers in Massachusetts are paying more on their bills this winter. All because insufficient transmission infrastructure in the state is leading to congestion in the transmission system. Natural gas efficiency programs would help natural gas customers. It would help them avoid paying high congestion prices. As well as allow them to spend more on other potential needs. As a result, further improving community resilience.


Communities that embrace energy efficiency are more “resource resilient.”

That is, energy efficiency reduces a community’s natural resources demands, enabling it to instead spend its income on needs that directly benefit the local economy, including other resilience measures. Take energy efficiency improvements in homes.

They make communities more resilient in several ways.

First of all by spending on efficiency creates more economic activity and jobs. Also buildings have increased economic value, durability, and safety in case of disaster. So energy savings from improvements means fewer emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Thereby improving public health; and smaller and less volatile energy bills. Finally, this allows households to spend their money in more beneficial ways…

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